An accreditation consultant shares 4 measurements where accrediting organizations can help sleep centers improve.

When sleep center directors look for ways to provide the best care for their patients and maximize their efficiency, an important thing they should consider is sleep center/lab accreditation. Accreditation provides professional guidance to standardize the processes of care, improve daily operations, and optimize quality of care.

Accrediting organizations provide systematic approaches to monitor and evaluate various aspects of quality through quality assurance/performance improvement programs (QA/PI). These programs can help sleep labs identify problems and implement changes that bring them into compliance with national regulations and industry best practices. Additionally, the disease detection process, baseline assessment, and severity assessment at initial diagnosis, as well as improvement of patients’ quality of life, can all be achieved and further improved upon through accreditation.

Typically, measurements in healthcare fit into four categories.

  1. Structure: This includes the clinical competency of technologists, inter-scorer reliability (ISR), regulatory compliance, avoidance of billing and coding errors, and chart audits for completion.
  2.  Process: This describes what is done with regard to policies and industry standards, primarily the turnaround time of sleep studies.
  3.  Outcome: This measures a patient’s status based on care and involves monitoring patient adherence to therapy and improved quality of life with treatment.
  4. Patient Experience: This category is concerned with accessibility and ensuring patient satisfaction and referral.

To achieve the highest level of quality in each of these categories, an accrediting organization can help you develop and apply standards for processes of care and can provide your staff with education and ongoing competency and compliance assessments that involve personal observation and evaluation.

Muhammad Sayed, MD

Muhammad Sayed, MD

Not only does accreditation mandate QA/PI programs, Medicare also mandates quality reporting. Rather than looking at QA/PI as a task or a dreaded duty, make it a part of your daily activities, then it will become part of your culture.

There are a few organizations that provide accreditation for sleep centers. They are (alphabetically): Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC); American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM); The Compliance Team (TCT), and The Joint Commission (TJC). Each organization is different regarding sleep medicine accreditation categories, cost, maintenance of annual membership fees, start to finish typical timeframe, on-site visits, and renewal of accreditation. Medicare has awarded deeming authority for sleep specific accreditation entities. All accrediting agencies share some of the same required quality assurance activities, but each also has unique requirements. It is recommended to compare them and find the one that best serves the needs of your facility.

Further articles could explore the different aspects of accreditation and the important role it plays in advancing the field of sleep medicine while improving the quality of services provided. QA/PI is an ongoing and crucial process that assists an organization identify areas that could potentially cost them money, patients, and credibility.

Muhammad Sayed, MD, RST, FACP, DWASM, RPSGT, DABPN, CHCQM, DNBPAS, FABQAURP, is an assistant professor of Neurology/Sleep Medicine at the University of North Carolina in Asheville. He provides expert counseling for ACHC and helps other sleep centers/labs achieve accreditation with the accrediting agency of their choice.